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Scotland pulls in more funding from UK

Universities in Scotland increased the amount of research funding that they won from UK funders by £65 million between 2008-09 and 2012-13, the Scottish Funding Council has found.

The Scottish Funding Council’s Annual Report and Accounts 2013-14 was released on 18 November. It shows that research income from UK sources has increased by 11.3 per cent from £574m in 2008-9 to £639m in 2012-13.

In 2012-13, Scotland won 13.7 per cent of total UK research income. Scotland’s share of income from Research Councils UK in the same period was 15.7 per cent, an increase of 0.5 per cent since 2008-9. 

Although there was a general increase in research funding, there was a decrease in income from charity sources. Funding from European programmes has remained flat at 12 per cent, and the report notes that this in part reflects the end of the EU’s Framework 7 programme. According to the report, the aim for 2015 will be to secure more funding from charities, as well as to look into what else Scottish universities can do to increase the competitiveness of its research base.

The report found that Scotland’s universities had increased their income from businesses. Income from knowledge exchange from industry rose by 13 per cent, to £436m in 2012-13. In order to ensure that intellectual property agreements are clear, all universities have made a commitment to provide easy access to IP in collaborative projects, to make it available quickly through simple licensing agreements. 

An important part of the knowledge exchange strategy is also the creation of a series of innovation centres, which are demand-led business-university collaborations in different industrial areas, according to the report. Funding for these will amount to £80m for the first 5 years, during which eight such centres are to be created in medicine, digital health, biotechnology, oil, data, sensors and imaging systems, and aquaculture and construction.

In 2013, the SFC also announced an additional £10m funding package to provide 2,000 extra university places. Out of these, about 700 were aimed at students from deprived areas in Scotland, and 1,000 were for students moving from college courses to university courses.

Scottish universities have committed to meeting eight target areas that are used to measure progress in performance over the years. The targets are agreed between the Scottish government and each higher education institution, and failure to meet targets could lead to a reduction of basic funding from the government. Areas include research excellence, university-business collaboration, student intake numbers, and wider access to higher education.